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Belarus opposition leader: Wagner fighters issued Belarusian passports

by Abbey Fenbert August 29, 2023 7:30 AM 2 min read
Belarusian opposition leader Pavel Latushko at a protest in Poland on Aug. 9, 2023. (Photo by Attila Husejnow/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
This audio is created with AI assistance

The Internal Affairs Ministry of Belarus has been providing new passports to Wagner mercenaries, Belarusian opposition leader Pavel Latushko said in an interview with the Polish Press Agency on Aug. 28.

Latushko, who heads the opposition organization National Anti-Crisis Management (NAM), said that this has been going on for a month.

"Wagner members are receiving Belarusian passports — real documents, but issued in other names," Latushko said. "Thus, they can simply enter the EU through border crossings."

Latushko said that Wagner mercenaries would then be able to "commit sabotage and terrorist attacks" in those countries.

At an Aug. 28 meeting in Warsaw, officials from Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania said they were considering closing all borders with Belarus in light of the Wagner threat.

Latushko is the former Belarusian ambassador to Poland, and now lives in exile there due to his political opposition to the regime of dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

According to Latushko, several thousand Wagner fighters remain in Belarus. He said that while Lukashenko wants to keep them there, "he does not have sufficient financial resources to maintain a large group of militants."

In a press conference on Aug. 25, Lukashenko announced that 10,000 Wagner soldiers were set to arrive in Belarus in the coming days. The claim stood in stark contrast to reports that members of the private military company were leaving the country in droves due to low pay and the recent death of commander Yevgeny Prigozhin.

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